(London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1887). 221 x 142 mm. (8 3/4 x 5 5/8"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary blue three-quarter morocco over marbled boards by Blackwell (stamp-signed on front free endpaper), raised bands, spine panels with gilt floral centerpiece, gilt titling, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. With eight plates, including two portraits, and a three-page folding facsimile of a letter from Shelley to his wife. Front pastedowns with engraved pictorial bookplate of Louis V. Ledoux, signed "Charlotte A. Morton fecit 1901." Occasional neat pencilled marginalia. Spines a little sunned, bindings with general (but not serious) shelfwear, hinge with separation at half title of first volume and final text page of second volume, but still an excellent copy without major flaws--internally, clean and fresh with bright plates, and in solid bindings.
This is an attractively bound copy of a work "considered the most authoritative 19th-century biography of the poet," according to the British Library and "the first major attempt to see Shelley plain," according to DNB. Literary scholar Ernest Dowden (1843-1913) was given access to the papers of the poet by Shelley's surviving son's wife, Lady Shelley, and was consequently able to add details previously unknown to the public. The biography was a source of controversy, condemned by some--notably critic Matthew Arnold--for its frank depiction of Shelley's "irregular relationships" with women, and by others for absolving Shelley of responsibility for the suicide of his first wife, whom he had abandoned for Mary Wollstonecraft, the daughter of his mentor William Godwin. Our volume was once in the collection of Louis V. Ledoux (1880-1948), a noted authority on, and collector of, Japanese prints. His bookplate was created by American artist Charlotte A. Morton (1885-1974) and is featured in the collection of the Currier Museum of Art and the Pratt Institute Ex-Libris Collection. (ST16957d)